UC launched the second Cool Campus Challenge, running from April 1-26, to support sustainability and contribute to UC Carbon Neutrality. Students, faculty and staff can earn points by taking actions such as bike-riding or taking public transportation to reduce their carbon footprints. / Nexus File Photo

As part of the University of California’s ambitious initiative to become carbon neutral by 2025, the regents of the University of California announced the Cool Campus Challenge.

From April 1–26, all 10 UC campuses will be going head-to-head for all students, faculty and staff to “reduce UC’s carbon footprint and create a culture of sustainability across the campuses,” according to the Cool Campus Challenge website.

This will be the second time UC has put on this challenge. The previous challenge in 2015 lasted 10 weeks and featured 19,000 participants from all 10 UC campuses and the UC Office of the President. Actions taken during the challenge saved 7,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

By taking energy-saving, waste-reducing and sustainability-focused actions such as turning off lights when leaving a room and taking public transportation, individuals, teams and campuses can earn points. Progress can be tracked by uploading photos and stories to a personal challenge page.

Each action will help earn points for your campus to enter you in a raffle to win “cool, energy efficient prizes.” Bonus points can also be earned for completing an action within a specified time period or taking new, creative actions not yet posted on the pledge list. Inviting friends to join, filling out an online survey and uploading a photo can earn you points as well.

Actions available will be based on user levels. Level 1 (Novice) is the basic starting level in which users can take simple actions and will be asked to learn about the Carbon Neutral Initiative and other UC Initiatives. When users earn 2,000 points, they will advance to Level 2 (Apprentice), and once they gain 4,000 points, they reach Level 3 (Ambassador). After earning 8,000 points, users advance to Level 4 (Champion), in which they can take more challenging actions and learn more about how they can lead emissions reduction efforts on their campuses.

Throughout the challenge, points earned will be tracked and viewable in real time and added to each campus’s total.

The campus with the most points overall by the end of the contest will be crowned “Coolest UC Campus” and receive a trophy and a $2,000 cash prize toward a celebration event.

Two runners-up will be awarded a trophy and a $1,000 cash prize, for the campus with the greatest percent participation and for the UC health location with the highest total number of points.

UC Santa Barbara will give out its own prizes. The highest performing team will win a $100 Visa gift card, and the highest performing individuals will win a $50 Visa gift card.

Additionally, UCSB is hosting a concurrent campus challenge for students living in residential halls and campus-owned apartments. The building with the most points and the building with the highest percentage reduction in energy usage will both win. Participating residents in these buildings will be entered to win “amazing prizes.”

The Cool Campus Challenge is a collaboration between the University of California and UC Berkeley’s Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory and the Center for Sustainability Energy.

Students can sign up online to join their residential hall or apartment team and begin earning points by taking action to reduce energy usage.

Anyone can create their own team or join an existing one on their campus, with no limit to the number of participants per team. Teams with the highest number of points will be recognized by their campus.

To sign up for the challenge, click here.


Jacqueline Wen
Jacqueline serves as the Science and Tech Editor. She enjoys watching movies and learning about science and tech.